He thought about it, prayed about it, and now an Alabama councilman is close to ending one local evil that’s plagued him for years: saggy pants.
Dadeville city councilor Frank Goodman told The Daily Beast that he issued an ordinance to prohibit “busting slack” after asking God how to handle the sartorial scourge ravaging his town of 3,200. The law might also banish short shorts and skimpy dresses, following a suggestion from a city councilwoman.
“We have a lot of older people here who don’t want to see it. A lot of middle-aged people don’t want to see it either,” said Goodman, 66. “They don’t want to see anybody walking around with their pants down with underwear that is showing.
“That is something that has never struck my fancy,” he added.
Goodman said he first proposed banning saggy pants when he took office in 2008, but the legislation fell by the wayside. Still, he couldn’t take the low-riding trousers any longer. Every time he goes to the grocery store or department store, he sees it.
“Seeing the young boys with pants hanging down, having to walk wide-legged, holding their pants up to keep them from falling down—now it’s gotten real bad,” Goodman said. “It’s something I couldn’t take no more.”
So Goodman turned to the Lord for the legislative inspiration, though it’s unclear how many inches would be too short or too low for proper pants-wearing.
“I prayed and asked God to show me what I should do, and the way I should go about it,” Goodman said. “What would God do? Did God go around doing this?”
The councilman added: “He would show me this saggy pant—it’s one of the things He did not do. It is not in His orders to do that to gain eternal life.”
At a council meeting this month, Goodman explained how drooping denim is “disrespectful,” a bad example to children, and bars the wearer from gainful employment. He told his colleagues what he told a Daily Beast reporter: “I prayed about this. I know that God would not go around with pants down.”
Councilwoman Stephanie Kelley suggested outlawing short skirts and shorts too, so that the ordinance doesn’t show “favoritism.”
A nurse who’s been on the council for a year, Kelley told The Daily Beast, “We just want to make sure people are decent.”
“My comment was if they are going to point at the guys, they should point at the girls too,” Kelley said. “When you got on short shorts or a short skirt, leaving nothing to the imagination… it’s like you’re advertising.”
Kelley said she was simply stating her opinion and had no idea her comments would make it into the local newspaper—and could end up being part of the legislation.
Town attorney Robin Reynolds indicated a draft of the saggy pants ordinance would be ready for the next council meeting, The Alexander City Outlook reported. “If the council wants me to write in something for the females—it will take a little more creativity on my part,” he said.
Some residents, however, weren’t buying it. One woman wrote on the local paper’s Facebook page, “This is getting some national coverage and not in a good way. It’s a good thing our city council is such a big joke because a lot of people around the country sure are laughing.”
Another resident fumed, “So many more issues... should take priority. Can we ban people from showing crack when they bend over too?”
Saggy-pants laws are nothing new in America. Jefferson Davis Parish, Louisiana, passed a similar ordinance last year that carries a $50 fine for first-time offenders and a $100 ticket for each additional violation.
Meanwhile, officials in Ocala, Florida, repealed their saggy-pants ordinance last year after a local NAACP branch threatened the city with a lawsuit, claiming the law was seen as a move to target young black men, WXIA reported.
The ordinance—which banned people on city property from wearing pants falling two inches below the waist while exposing underwear or buttocks—carried a penalty of up to $500 and 60 days in jail, the local TV station reported.
This summer, Newton, New Jersey’s council decided to instead pursue a suggested code of conduct to prevent any legal challenges on a saggy-pants law. Under Town Manager Thomas Russo Jr.’s original plan, pants couldn’t fall more than three inches below the waist, exposing skin or undergarments beneath, NJ.com reported.
But in Alabama, Goodman believes he’ll win Dadeville’s fight against saggy pants and that enforcement would be easy.
“It’s just like catching a drunk driver,” the councilman said. “You can’t enforce that law until you catch them. If a police officer sees somebody walking down the street with their pants down, they’ll give them a ticket.”
“So pull your pants up,” Goodman added. “That way, you won’t be fined. Start putting a belt on and buy your pants in the right size.”